The Secret Lives of Suspender Belts… Your Questions Answered!

A pretty suspender belt and stockings are a voyeur’s delight. And don’t we all have a little voyeur inside us, always ready to pop out? Let’s face facts here – stockings (and tights) might keep your legs warm, but it’s really all about the visual appeal!

I’ll get to tights in due course but let’s start by clearing the air on two points:

Suspender belts or garter belts?

While the names have certainly become interchangeable, the origins of ‘garter belts’ and ‘suspender belts’ are quite different. A garter simply holds something – a sock or stocking, tightly so that it doesn’t fall down. Elasticised materials didn’t exist until early in the 20th century.

Historically, socks and stocking were usually made of wool, cotton or, for the more affluent, silk. Unless they were held in place, they would end up around your ankles. Garters were worn by both men and women to hold up their socks. Then, as the hemlines got shorter (and socks grew into stockings), garters went higher. By the time stocking reached mid-thigh, women began wearing garter belts around their waists so their stockings would stay up discretely.

The Wedding Garter

The wedding garter is a very old wedding tradition, dating back at least 500 years. Brides wore a garter around their thigh which was removed by the new husband symbolizing access to the ‘promised land’. It’s popularity continues unabated even though few of us marry as virgins today.

The wedding garter retains a timeless popularity!

A short history of stockings:

The ‘modern’ stocking is actually a lot older than most of us would guess. Way back in 1598, an English Reverend, William Lee, invented the first known knitting machine. Prior to it’s invention, all hosiery – socks, leggings, stocking and – yes, tights, were hand knitted. It took days of dedication to knit a single pair of stocking. But Lee’s invention revolutionised the process.

Clergy of the time typically came from wealthy, connected families. Poverty and preaching were uncommon bedfellows. Silk was also the domain of the wealthy. It came only from a Chinese monopoly and transport costs alone were stupendous.

Despite the cost, Lee presented the original Queen Elizabeth with the first documented pair of silk stockings.

Refusing to allow history to call him sexist, he also gifted a pair to Scotland’s James VI who subsequently inherited Elizabeth’s crown (but not stockings) and became James I of England!

By the early 1600’s, Lee’s invention was making stocking for landed gentry everywhere. As with all technologies, costs fell and machine knitted hosiery became increasing affordable and accessible. However, the cost of raw silk meant that few could afford the much admired – and desired – silk stocking.

Science meets sexy and suspender belts arrive!

The first synthetic stocking were manufactured in 1912. Overnight, sheer, silk-like stocking became affordable! They were elegant, desirable and outright sensual. Frumpy garter belts were replaced with equally sensual suspender belts! The rest, as they say, is history!

Still waiting for the section on tights? It’s coming but first, let’s answer some suspenseful questions:

Hips or waist?

Whether you want a waist or hip fit is going to depend on your intent! A suspender belt that sits on your waist is unlikely to slip lower as you go about your day. Your hips keep the belt high and the suspender belt does the same for your stockings.

A design that sits on your hips is more likely eye-candy than pure function. It’s designer probably intended it to be a ‘boudoir’ piece for short-term wear only! All show with lots of go, so to speak!

Aesthetically, both can be visually gorgeous. Your ‘secret drawer’ really needs both styles.

A wide or narrow suspender belt?

Both can be beautiful but if we’re talking practicality, the answer is wide. While narrow suspender belts can look really sexy, they’re far less practical. It’s about elasticity, gravity and friction…

Stockings weigh almost nothing but they are anchored at two ends. At the bottom, your feet – and your entire body weight – are holding them down. You then roll them up, stretch them a little and attach them to your suspender belt. This creates a downward pull.

Knickers under or over your suspender belt?

If your suspender belt starts to slip lower – due to the downward force being exerted, together with gravity, you’ll end up with wrinkled stockings and the stocking tops being visible below shorter hemlines.

A wider suspender belt creates more friction and is therefore less likely to slip lower as you move through your day. Another benefit of a wider belt is that it will be less likely to show through a tight skirt since it will spread the pressure over a wider area. Narrow belts, if worn tightly, can sometimes create visible lines and contours.

Won’t those clips damage my stockings?

There are two types of clips – metal and plastic. Both can vary in quality, however any good suspender belt will be made with well finished clips that aren’t going to do any damage. On the other hand, cheap suspender belts often have clips with rough edges that can snag and even cause ladders in your stocking. .

How many attachment straps should my belt have?

If you’re planning on a long day, the more straps the better. A belt with 6 or even 8 straps will make it much less likely you’ll need to disappear to the bathroom every few hours for some minor adjustments!

However, you’ll find that most suspender belts are made with two straps for each leg – one at the front and one at the back. If your belt is a wider, waist type, two straps for each stocking should still be good to go all day and into the night.

It’s all a matter of taste, but for ‘boudoir scenes’, the two strap design is the popular choice.

Do I put on the suspender belt or stockings first?

The belt followed by your stockings. To attach the suspender clip, just slide the round head up to where it can pop out. Then, slide two or three centimetres of the top band of the stocking between the two halves of the opened clip and slide the head back down again. That will lock the clip, holding the stocking securely. Rinse and repeat for the remaining three, five, or seven straps. Is that another reason to favour a four strap design?

What about my knickers – over or under?

Either, but convenience says over. Over is a lot more practical when you need to visit the bathroom. Wearing your knickers under the belt means that you will have to undo all the straps to get your panties down.

The other side of ‘either’ is that some belts definitely look prettier over your knickers. Practicality versus sensuality!

A great alternative is a lingerie set with a combination panty/suspender like that shown below.

Neither suspender belt nor panties but a voyeur’s delight, none-the-less.

It’s a nice example of sensuality working with practicality. You can see a different style of the same concept here. For added practicality choose styles that have removable straps so that they can be worn without stocking.

Why don’t I just wear ‘Stay Up’ stockings?

You can, but let’s face it… they’re nowhere near as sexy. ‘Stay ups’ or ‘hold ups’ have strips of silicone inside the top band to keep them in place. Because your thigh tapers down to your knee, even the best stay ups will need regular adjustment. Some people also find the silicone uncomfortable.

And finally, we get to tights!

They may be practical but they are ‘passion killers’! You might be wearing a gorgeous lingerie set, but as soon as those tights go on, you’ve ruined the effect!

There are also some practical reason to ditch the tights in favour of stockings and a suspender belt. Many women are more comfortable leaving the upper thigh and crotch uncovered. It’s certainly healthier, especially in warmer weather, and it also means less fabric – and therefore friction – between the thighs.

Of course, if you like the convenience of tights but want the sensuality of stockings, here’s your solution. The only downside is that these designs don’t allow for a matching, three piece set of bra, knickers and suspender belt.

Neither stocking nor tights but definitely easy on the eye!

If you’re already a convert or you’re ready to ditch the tights, you’ll find some lovely designs in our shop. You’ll find the link in the menu above 🙂

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